It's already more than a day since the odds have once again shifted in the Democratic sweepstakes. I went to bed at about 3:30 a.m. Tel Aviv time after watching Rupert Murdoch's Fox News declare on the Star network that Barack Obama had defeated Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary. But when I woke at noon the next day (sorry, I am a late sleeper) the same guy who had confidently proclaimed Obama the victor was just as confidently explaining Hillary's victory. And, of course, McCain's as well.
I suppose many of us had overreacted to Obama's surprise smash-out win in Iowa and, like Frank Rich in Sunday's Times, were inclined to declare the missus finished. Apparently, not so. Or, at least, not yet.
Having deliberately run his campaign without race resentment as a prop, Obama now goes more or less head-to-head against Clinton in South Carolina. In this state, as opposed to both Iowa and New Hampshire where the black vote is infinitesimal, Afro-Americans (and not West Indians) make up a huge proportion of the Democratic primary base. Many savvy commentators assumed from the beginning that this vote would go largely to Clinton. With her triumph in New Hampshire, that assumption might persist.
But, given the fact that Obama really does have a chance at the nomination and at the presidency, it would be strange to find black Americans in the South not being eager to have one of their own put both an end, symbolic and real, to the ugly legacy of race discrimination and persecution.
So, between now and South Carolina, be on the alert for Hillary to claim the succession to her husband as the second black president because mawkish Toni Morrison called him the first.